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Escape the chill and run away to Florida this Christmas if you like, but if you have kids in tow there's a chance they'll want to recreate a snowy vibe at some point. Not all of Florida's holiday events involve wrapping up warm beside simulated scenes of ice and snow, but there's a distinctly wintry edge to most of the holiday happenings. Here's a selection of seasonal family-friendly events on offer in and around Orlando...
Grinchmas at Universal's Islands of Adventure
Grinchmas at Islands of Adventure is the seasonal holy grail for fans of Dr. Seuss. Watch your favourite characters spread festive cheer in a completely transformed Seuss Landing zone, and if that's not enough you can get even friendlier at The Grinch & Friends Character Breakfast (tickets required). A sparkly winter wonderland sets the scene for the Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular live show, which runs several times throughout the day, and you can even meet the mean green Grinch in person for the ultimate holiday photo.
Grinchmas runs from 1 Dec 2012 - 1 Jan 2013
ICE at Gaylord Palms Resort
An annual Florida tradition, this year's ICE attraction at Kissimmee's Gaylord Palms Resort is an all-new tribute to the DreamWorks TV animation Merry Madagascar, featuring 20,000 square feet of hand-carved sculptures built by a team of skilled ice artisans from Harbin in China. The talented sculptors spend over a month in Orlando/Kissimmee to fashion the oversized statues for the show, entirely carved from two million pounds of ice. Expect to be wowed by a host of dazzlingly illuminated animal characters and whatever you do, don't miss the chance to zip down the giant two-storey ice slides.
ICE is kept at a frigid 9° Fahrenheit (-13° Celsius) to keep the ice from melting, so be sure to dress appropriately. Layer up and don't forget your hats and gloves! Visitors are all provided with calf-length, hooded winter coats for extra warmth.
ICE is already in full swing and runs until 1 January, 2013. Tickets can be purchased online. Gaylord Palms Resort, 6000 West Osceola Parkway, Kissimmee, FL 34746
The Polar Express Experience at SeaWorld
All aboard! The multi-sensory Polar Express Experience offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in recreated scenes from the Polar Express animated movie; the story of a doubting young boy who takes a remarkable train ride to the North Pole and visits the home of Santa Claus. An array of special sound, motion, lighting and scent effects bring the twinkling atmosphere of the North Pole to life - and, of course - Santa Claus himself will be there to greet you at the other end.
Look out for SeaWorld's other festivities too, including a Christmas Market for last minute gifts, and the choreographed Sea of Trees; a glittering forest of more than 100 sparkling Christmas trees, dancing in time to music.
SeaWorld Orlando's Christmas Celebration continues until 31 December 2012.
Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade
Here's one to bring a hint of summer back to proceedings. Disney's Animal Kingdom ushers in the festive season with a combination of super-sized dancing puppets and much-loved Disney characters during the annual Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade. The Christmas extravaganza sees a caravan of colourful floats wind past to a soundtrack of traditional holiday songs and world music beats. Look out for Mickey himself amidst an energetic troupe of gravity-defying stiltwalkers, decorated rickshaw taxis and larger-than-life safari vehicles. Arrive early for a prime viewing spot.
Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade runs until 2 January, 2013.
And while we're on the subject of Mickey, it's worth mentioning again an event we wrote about last year - Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom - always one of the most popular events in the Christmas calendar. Head here to see the snow fall on Main Street, USA, and the lighting of the Castle Dream Lights on the enchanted Cinderella Castle.
Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Orlando from London Gatwick, Manchester and Glasgow. Visit Virgin Holidays for a complete range of Florida holidays, including fly-drives, villa holidays and inclusive theme park deals.
Header photo of Mickey's Jingle Jungle Parade © ckramer
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.